Viva Yasuní! Life vs Big Oil

A note from the editor

Vanessa Baird

It was Sam Martingell, one of our street campaigners, who sowed the seed for the main theme of this issue. He knew two young people who were desperate to communicate the wonders of Ecuador’s Yasuní rainforest, with a view to saving it and the cultures of its peoples from imminent destruction at the hands of oil companies.

Sam put the two – Ginés Haro Pastor and Georgina Donati – in touch with New Internationalist’s publications department. The result is a stunning photo book Yasuní Green Gold which will be published in September.

But we wanted to do more to draw attention to a potentially revolutionary proposal for tackling climate change: compensating oil-producing countries for loss of revenue as a result of their deliberately not exploiting fossil fuel reserves. Hence this month’s issue of NI, which we hope will help to explain the idea, stimulate interest, and save this ecologically crucial corner of the Western Amazon. The next few months are vital as the price of oil bites and the pressure on the Ecuadorian Government exerted by petroleum companies intensifies. But this could be the beginning of something quite momentous – a turning point not only for oil producing countries like Ecuador, but for all of us who would like to go on inhabiting this planet.

Also in this month’s issue of New Internationalist, we are venturing into a territory less common for a current affairs magazine – verse. ‘As if poetry mattered’, is how NI co-editor – and poet – Dinyar Godrej puts it, and his international selection manages to be both refreshingly immediate and hauntingly relevant.

While on the subject of creativity, few manage the fusion of politics, passion and imagination as well as Billy Bragg, whose latest album is reviewed on our Mixed Media pages. And to show that even those with massive clout don’t always win, we report on how the combined power of President Bush, BP, Barclays, Coca-Cola and Ford have failed to squash a multimillion dollar lawsuit against major corporations accused of persecuting South Africans by doing business with the apartheid regime. To find out what’s happening to the groundbreaking case, launched by former political prisoner Lungisile Ntsebeza and others, look at this month’s Currents section.

PS We would like to thank the Municipal Government of Orellana, Ecuador, for allowing us to use the pictures of Yasuní that appear in this magazine.

Vanessa Baird for the New Internationalist co-operative.
www.newint.org

Keynote article.

The indigenous peoples of Yasuní retain strong community values. They need to – under the shadow of military and oil company repression.

The indigenous peoples of Yasuní retain strong community values. They need to – under the shadow of military and oil company repression.

Photo: yasunigreengold.org / Mauro Burzio

Yasuní – is this the way beyond petroleum?

Is Ecuador’s bold proposal not to exploit a billion barrels of oil in the Yasuní National Park a serious option for combating climate change? If so, the world is going to have to move fast, warns Vanessa Baird.

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There’s an attractive simplicity to the Ecuadorian leader’s proposal. Rafael Correa has said that his government is prepared not to extract nearly a billion barrels of oil from Yasuní National Park, a part of the Amazon rainforest of extraordinary but fragile ecological and cultural richness. To do so, however, Ecuador will need to be compensated by the international community to the tune of at least $350 million per annum for the next 10 years. The June 2008 deadline for this proposal to save Yasu...




Features.

‘Speak to us first!’

People from the Ecuadorian rainforest tell Fabrício Guamán what they think of their Government’s proposal to leave petroleum in the ground.

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Dirty and dangerous – workers who clean up oil spills often suffer neurological and digestive problems. Cancer rates are higher in areas close to oil activity than in the rest of Ecuador.

Toxic blocks

No-one said oil was clean. But Ecuador’s experience of extracting fossil fuels is about as bad as it gets, reports David Ransom.

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The Yasuní National Park oil blocks

The five oil concession regions in Yasuní National Park

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A crude dilemma

A crude dilemma

Calm the panic or delay the inevitable?

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Will Yasuní – and its great ceibo trees – fall prey to greenhouse gangsters?

Costing the earth

Adam Ma’anit navigates the snakepits of global carbon trading in the context of Yasuní.

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ACTION!

To save Yasuní, the oil must stay in the ground.

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As if poetry mattered

Poems that confront human challenges – an international selection.

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Non-Iron Lady

Non-Iron Lady

Anna Chen explores the battle of the non-iron lady vs the planet-hating peacock with an ode to crinkles for good measure.

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Blog.

beach life

beach life

Ten days into the Tahdiya, or ‘Calm’ between Hamas and Israel, we haven’t seen anything change here inside Gaza. In fact the only real difference I’ve noticed is that over the last couple of weeks the power cuts have been worse than ever. Like many other people, I have power cuts at home for eight hours at a time now. So the food in my fridge gets ruined and wasted.
Please tell me how that contributes to security in Israel.   

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Read more blogs...

Currents.

Helping themselves and each other: Orissan women meet in an open forum.

Cyclone survival

Women in Orissa, India, have ways of dealing with calamity

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Riot act: a Haitian street vendor surveys the damage after food riots in Port-au-Prince, April 2008.

Starved by the system

The companies making a killing from the food crisis

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Inside China’s prisons

It’s difficult to know for sure how many political prisoners there currently are in China, but it’s safe to say that there are thousands of them.

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A kick in the balls

New Zealand intelligence gathering or US & NATO spy satellite?

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The iconic photograph of Hector Pieterson, fatally injured in the Soweto uprising.

Court in the act

Apartheid accomplices Coca-Cola, Barclays, BP et al are heading for court

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Regulars.

A hold-up at the bank

Maria Golia tackles taboos about money in Cairo.

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Big Bad World - Bush

Polyp takes the pen to G W Bush

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John McCain

Presidential hopeful John McCain gets the treatment

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Selvaprakash L

Blue eyes in a Bangalore stone quarry captured by photographer Selvaprakash L.

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Indian Community Welfare Organization

on confronting HIV and AIDS in south India

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FOK-U: the Façade Of Kindness & Understanding

A seminar in effective leadership (PR & spin) by Peter Greenwall

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Timor-Leste

Timor-Leste’s landscape is still deeply scarred from the conflict that raged in 1999, after the Timorese population voted for independence from Indonesia.

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Film, Book & Music Reviews.

Couscous – a passionate, earthy film that straddles two cultures.

Couscous (La Graine et Le Mulet)

Kechiche, like Fatih Akin, the Turkish-German film-maker, shows us how the lives of migrants and their children straddle cultures, and, like Akin’s Head-On, Couscous is passionate and earthy.

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Endurance, love and commitment in Killer of Sheep.

Killer of Sheep

A beautifully composed episodic study of Stan, a slaughterhouse worker, his family, friends and community.

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Chocolate City

A wonderful documentary that tells the story of 400 families who were forced from their housing project in the shadow of Capitol Hill, Washington DC, by speculative development.

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Mariza: an incredible talent.

Mariza Box

For anyone interested in the past, present and future of this uniquely Portuguese melancholy, the Mariza Box is a handsome object containing Mariza’s three solo albums.

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A Bragg to fit all moods.

Mr Love & Justice

Bragg tempers the unfashionable humanity of his songs with a sad acknowledgement of current realities.

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Taxi

The simple – and brilliant – premise of Khaled Al Khamissi's Taxi is to bring together 58 short fictional dialogues with some of Cairo’s 80,000 cab drivers, drawn from his own extensive experience of taxi journeys through this polluted, turbulent city.

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Anarchy Alive!

Gordon is well-grounded in both anarchist theory and as an activist in Britain and his own country, Israel. He provides a useful examination of the movement in many ways at the heart of the resistance to contemporary war and globalization.

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